The largest musical in New Zealand history, City of a 100 Lovers, with a reported budget of $12 million, closed suddenly due to poor ticket sales leaving cast, crew and contractors out of pocket.
Speaking to Te Karere, cast members Matiu Hamuera says he worked for two weeks on the show, but only received payment for one week.
“I left my job in Rotorua, I left my home and family to come here to work. I was given a six-month contract.”
The show opened in October last year but was shut down suddenly in February.
Jihong Lue, who was the major investor and company director of the production, told media before the show opened: “I originally planned an $8 million production cost…we now so far will have already invested close to $10 million”.
According to media reports, Jihong is terminally ill and went overseas for treatment during the show’s production.
With the show expected to run until June this year, the abruptness of the ending caught many of the cast off-guard, says actor Waihoroi Shortland.
“When he [Jihong] went overseas for an operation for his illness, it was still expected that the show would go on.”
Te Karere contacted SkyCity who confirmed over the phone that they have the remnants of the production on site and are unable to do anything with the space until further action is taken.
They also spoke to Equity New Zealand president Jennifer Ward Lealand and found they weren’t the only ones having trouble getting a response from those behind the show.
“In the contract is an agreement to pay out a notice period, right?
“The people in charge of the business are to pay around $3000 to the employees. So, the union has written to them to demand payment, but we have not had a response, nor has payment been made.”
Equity New Zealand says it is now up to their lawyers to resolve the issue.